A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition that can cause disability and even death. DVT occurs when a blood clot develops in one or more veins deep inside the body, usually in the legs.
Blood clots are usually beneficial, in that they prevent excessive bleeding after an injury. A clot that develops when you are not bleeding, however, can be dangerous. This is especially true for blood clots that occur in deep veins, which are more serious than are clots in shallow veins. The clots in deep veins can break free and travel to the lungs to cause pulmonary embolism (PE). A pulmonary embolism can cause breathing problems that may even lead to death. Deep vein thrombosis is the main cause of PE.
DVT can develop in any deep vein, but the clots associated with DVT usually occur in the deep veins of the pelvis, thigh or lower. In fact, only 4 to 13 percent of CVT cases occur in the deep veins of the upper extremities.
Where would symptoms of a blood clot in my leg occur?
Deep vein thrombosis is more likely to develop in some veins of the leg than in others, so symptoms of DVT are more likely to appear near those veins. Veins most commonly affected by DVT include:
Superficial femoral vein – despite its name “superficial,” this vein is a large blood vessel located deep in your thigh, running the length between your groin and the inside of your knee; symptoms will develop on the inside of your thigh
Popliteal vein – situated behind your knee; a DVT here would cause pain behind your knee
Posterior tibial veins – positioned at the back of your calf, the blood vessels in your lower legs drain blood from the back of your legs and the sole of your foot; symptoms from a DVT here would cause symptoms at the back of your calf
Peroneal veins – these veins join the popliteal vein to bring blood from your thigh to the outside of your calf and down to the outside of your ankle; pain from a leg DVT here would cause pain deep inside your outer calf
Symptoms of dvt in your leg
Deep vein thrombosis does not always cause symptoms. When they do cause symptoms, though, the symptoms of a DVT may include:
- Throbbing or cramping pain in one leg, especially in your calf or thigh
- Tenderness of the skin on the affected leg
- Swelling in one leg
- Warm skin around the painful area
- Feeling of warmth on the affected leg
- A heavy ache in the affected area
- Darkening or other change in skin color on your leg, often near the painful area; your skin may turn red or purple, depending on the color of your skin
- Swollen veins that feel hard or sore when you touch them
DVT and its symptoms rarely affects both legs.
Why dvt causes symptoms
Arteries, veins, and capillaries are blood vessels that transport blood to various parts of the body. Arteries carry oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood from your heart and lungs to the rest of your body. Tiny capillaries deliver this blood to cells, which use the oxygen and nutrients for energy and to function. Cells of the body then unload carbon dioxide and other toxins into the capillaries that carry this blood to veins, which then brings the oxygen-poor, toxin-rich blood back up to the heart. Tiny valves prevent the blood from flowing backwards in between heartbeats.
Blood clots are clumps that form when your blood hardens from a liquid into a solid. Deep vein thrombosis occurs when these clumps develop in your veins; they often develop near valves. The clot prevents blood from flowing through the veins, which causes excess blood to build up behind the clot. T
The accumulating blood can press against the walls of the vein to cause pressure and pain – the excess blood and the pressure it causes can even damage the vein and the valves. Trapped blood causes the veins to expand and press against surrounding tissue to cause swelling, redness, and tenderness. Symptoms worsen as the clot grows.
If you have pain in your legs, or other symptoms of DVT, consult with your doctor. DVT can be serious, but it is very treatable. For more information, consult with your vein doctor.
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